Colonised beyond redemption: Part Two …giving a human face to plunder

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WHEN Mai Olivia Charamba sings her popular song, ‘Africa restore your identity’, what exactly is she referring to?
She is raising a very fundamental question about where we are going as Africans!
Parents and relatives hardly ever question the motive behind these generous scholarship offers from Europe and the US and more recently other affluent Asian countries.
Many mistakenly believe Westerners are displaying friendship and generosity.
But history shows the West never had any friendly relations with Africa except where these were a guise for subsequent invasion and exploitation of resources.
Europe’s centuries-long enslavement of Africans was not a sign of friendship; neither was the 100 years of colonial exploitation or the continuing neo-colonial relations between the white West and black Africa.
The plunder of African natural resources such as minerals and oil must have a human face, hence the pretensions to friendly relations.
Europe’s ‘friendship’ to Africa often comes in the form of ‘funeral assistance’ or ‘chema’ in Shona, dressed up as ‘humanitarian assistance’.
Europe and the US destroy African economies through sanctions and other diabolical international trade strategies and then turn round and offer help.
They become donors and benefactors.
Africans become ever so grateful for the assistance (chema) offered. The donations are meant to create a lot of goodwill towards Europe and the US among local communities.
But in reality the ‘aid’ offered is meant to mask the diabolical acts of political and economic destabilisation perpetrated against innocent African populations.
Political and social commentator Dr Tafataona Mahoso describes the ‘chema’ philosophy thus:
In Africa we liken the practice of offering token to the acts of a witch (muroyi) who, after using witchcraft to kill a person, then comes forward with funeral assistance (chema) to assist the bereaved!
It must also be likened to a wolf approaching unsuspecting victims in sheep’s clothing.
Zimbabwe’s experiences with illegal Western-imposed economic sanctions is a good example of the ‘chema’ practice by white Western governments.
After the sanctions, (the equivalent of white witchcraft), hundreds of innocent citizens were killed through cholera and starvation and thousands were left unemployed as hundreds of businesses collapsed bringing the economy to a near stand-still.
Livelihoods of ordinary Zimbabweans were ravaged resulting in widespread hunger, malnutrition and abject poverty.
Then the ‘chema’ philosophy was brought into action.
Western governments sent in the notorious so-called NGOs with food hand-outs and medicine, the ‘chema’.
The practice has resulted in the creation of a donor-dependency syndrome among local communities.
This dependency does not get expression only in the expectation for money, goods and services.
It is a ‘soft’ tool for persuading Africans to abandon their cultural practices at the dictate of the white donors.
In order not to displease their white benefactors, Africans will comply with any calls to abandon their African ways of living and doing things (culture).
African knowledge, practices in agriculture, health and even matters spiritual that are shunned by white donors are discarded in order to ‘please’ them so as to attract more donations.
It is this ‘culture’ of wanting to ‘look good’ in the eyes of the whiteman that is silently destroying African culture and value systems.
Many Africans have thus been induced to believe that the whiteman is superior to them.
The inferiority complex in Africans was created by the colonial experience through force of arms, by hook and crook, through Christian evangelisation and economic marginalisation of which the Western sanctions regime is but a major part.
In the same way that our political commissars educated the masses at ‘pungwes’ during our liberation war, so must all pan-African scholars, writers, artistes of different genres, traditional leaders, spirit mediums and the conscious men, women and youth, work tirelessly for the reclamation and restoration of our African identity.
Professor Claude Gumbucha Mararike, a leading Zimbabwean intellectual and sociologist explains that seemingly philanthropic friendly gestures by Europeans towards Africans are strategies for client creation.
Europe and its US cousins are constantly working to create clients and markets for their goods and services in Africa.
They are employing ‘soft bombardment’ tactics to prepare and condition Africans for economic exploitation.
The major weapons are Christianity, education and aid.
But Zimbabweans fought a long protracted war to rid themselves of the burdensome colonial yoke!
Both the First and Second Chimurenga attest to Zimbabweans’ sustained armed struggles to free themselves from white domination.
Except for a few cosmetic changes such as the country’s name change from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe and a few town and street names in honour of a few African heroes like Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere and Samora Machel, to name a few, Zimbabweans have stuck to white names with a tenacity that defies logic.
Logic says you fought against colonialism and when you freed yourself we expected you to rid yourself of all the colonial symbols that defined white occupation.
But no, we have kept the names of suburbs named after farms pegged out by members of the Pioneer Column.
Names like Borrowdale, Greendale, Avondale and Glen Lorne are the original names given by white people.
More than any other names, Harare and Bulawayo suburb names epitomise the very essence of our subjugation!
So how come we have retained these names?
How come black Zimbabweans feel superior for living in Borrowdale compared to Mufakose?
Just recently a colleague invited me to a meeting on Cambridge Street in Avondale.
Cambridge!
Well, Dr Lazarus Dokora has almost exorcised the ghost of Cambridge (School Examinations) by maintaining that we stick to ZIMSEC examinations!
Many black Zimbos would love to return ‘home’ to Cambridge.
If it is not from Britain, Europe or the US, it is not worth considering.
Elements of European culture and symbols are so indelibly etched on the psyches of many black people.
The coming of independence was supposed to exorcise most of the demons of colonialism from among the black people of Africa.
But tragically, it did not!
Thirty seven years after England officially vacated her offices in the then Salisbury, now Harare, Africans have continued to tenaciously cling to all things European.
One must be forgiven for thinking that Africans indeed have no sense of independence or pride of identity.
Other races have fought their erstwhile colonisers, thrown off the shackles and developed vibrant indigenous-centred economies.
Place names have been changed to reflect the new political dispensation.
But in Zimbabwe, we are still creating more European-named suburbs.
Farayi Mungoshi is writing a series titled ‘What is in a name?’
We have done many wonderful things for our independent country Zimbabwe, but failure to address the name changes is the most glaring omission.
Who will bell the cat?
Cde Aeneas Chigwedere as Minister of Education and Culture tried and failed.
Parents and politicians went up in arms as if to say: ‘Unodirei kudzinga varungu vedu!’
But now many Zimbabweans are asking questions.
Why are we keeping these colonial names?
Who are we trying to please?
Do we want our children to also die under the British shadows?
Let us exorcise the British ghosts haunting our schools, farms, bridges and suburbs by removing the numerous British place names. Zimbabwe is a free country!
Our culture, our country, our identity!

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